Thursday, April 14, 2011

Would you buy your next motorhome direct from the manufacturer?

After every recession decimates a portion of the RV industry we see new companies rise from the ashes of those who came before them that did not survive the economic casualties that such downturns leave in their wake.

This recession is no different.

Several new manufacturers have emerged this year to show the entrepreneurial spirit that is found in so many adventurous souls who like to make exciting products that allow consumers to enjoy a unique lifestyle outdoors and in concert with nature.

One of the "new guys on the block" is Nexus RV ( founded by Claude Donati and Dave Middleton, veteran RV manufacturers who previously worked under the traditional model of manufacturer selling to the dealer and the dealer selling to the consumer.

They studied the new buying habits of consumers and the way they use the Internet to do their research prior to visiting a dealership. They coupled that knowledge with a desire to "break the mold" and establish a brand new company with a factory-direct sales model from their new facility near the RV/MN Hall of Fame in Elkhart, Indiana.

The intent of this posting is not to "hype" the new company, but to ask our readers if this is something they would consider the next time they purchase a new motorhome. Nexus proclaims significant price reductions by eliminating the middleman in the sales process. They also promote the ability of the buyer to sit down with the owners and work out all the details of the sale including some customization to the motorhome.

On a company video posted on YouTube, Dave Middleton notes that Nexus will be the first company to start out life as a factory-direct operation. There are certainly other motorhome manufacturers that sell factory-direct; two that come to mind are Born Free and Lazy Daze, both exceptional products with a loyal customer base.

Does the idea of buying factory-direct get your attention? Would you prefer to buy factory-direct or purchase from the local dealer where you can establish a closer relationship?

Nexus is well prepared for the question that will inevitably come up during their sales presentations: what about service? The company has signed up approximately 250 independent service companies to service the Nexus motorhomes on the road.

How would service affect your decision to buy factory-direct from any of the three companies mentioned here versus through a dealer and manufacturer's service organization? Is the market really changing? Is Nexus RV ahead of the curve or will consumers be slow to buy factory-direct from a start-up company?

We know many are comfortable buying from Born Free and Lazy Daze who are well established in the industry with a loyal following.

What are some of the important things that you would want to know before you would consider buying a motorhome factory-direct versus a dealer? Let us know how you feel on this topic. I'm sure Claude and Dave would appreciate your views. I've had the pleasure or working with these guys when they worked for other RV companies and they were always very cordial and open with the media. I wish them well in this new venture and look forward to seeing their products soon.


  1. I would absolutely buy a factory direct motorhome. I own a Lazy Daze, although I bought it used and not direct from the factory.

    However, the things I love about my Lazy Daze have as much to do with the way they are built as the way they are sold. Both Lazy Daze and Born Free offer distinctive products with features and philosophies that aren't common in other brands. The factory direct model probably does allow the manufacturer to put more resources into materials and construction, but neither of those brands appeal to price driven buyers.

    I think there are a lot of RVers who are looking for something different. I think there's a market for quality construction materials, a higher level of quality construction, and a different kind of buying experience.

    I'd encourage Nexus to focus not only on factory direct, but on using the benefits of factory direct to build a product with quality materials and construction that can't be found elsewhere. Quality is what builds fantastic owner loyalty. Fantastic owner loyalty builds the sales force (satisfied owners) that will drive new customers your way.

    Based on the few pictures I can see on the website, the Nexus product looks a lot like the offerings from many other brands. As more details come online, I hope they point out how their product is different and better than what's widely available.

    In my opinion, it's not enough to use factory direct to just offer a lower price. You have to use that advantage to offer a superior product.

  2. Great contriution Joe, thank you. Readers may want to check out the Nexus YouTube videos that highlight their product and the differnces they are showcasing here:

    Exterior -

    Interior 1 -

    Interior 2 -

  3. Regarding follow-up service: I have owned 3 Lazy Daze motorhomes starting in 1986. Lazy Daze was recommended by my father-in-law who owned four. None of these seven RV's ever needed to go back to the factory for warranty or repair. Sure, it happens, but it didn't to us. Reason: Lazy Daze builds a high-quality product that is meant to last. Lack of quality is an issue with many RV manufacturers today. Hopefully Nexus gets the point. And, yes, it's well worth it to visit the factory, spend time with the owner(s), and place a customized order. And it at a lower price than many off-the-line RV's because you've eliminated the dealer network. Gale

  4. I can answer most of your questions by stating that last week, my wife and I made a trip to Elkhart, IN and traded in our 2000 Safari Class C for a Nexus manufactured Phantom 28 footer. I was very familiar with the Lazy Daze and Born Free motorhomes, but being from the Eastern US, I did not want to travel to Kansas or Calif. to see where these products were made and sold. I can say that I have been very pleased with the way our sales transaction went, and am now awaiting our finished Motorhome sometime in June. I do feel that we have saved app. $8,000-$12,000 in dealing with Nexus, and hope that our motorhome will have the same quality as a Lazy Daze or Born Free.

  5. I'm interested in seeing a well built product at reasonable prices! I would like the opportunity to bring the product to the manufacturer once a year for an "annual tuneup". I would like to see a 5 year warranty.

  6. We have bought factory direct (from Xplorer, formerly Frank Industries) with great results in terms of having the floorplan configured to suit our needs, but that resulted in a unique model that may not have such good resale value. Otherwise, we buy used.

  7. I would buy a Winnebago product direct. Our dealer only had to fix 1 $5 part when we picked it up and we haven't been back since. Reading about a lot of issues with other manufacturers might make me a little leery of buying direct (unless they were close)... Our dealer was great, but all they did for me was prep the MH and make some money.

  8. Bob

    Thanks for the mention. Also, Joe thank you for the comments, we plan to listen to anyone who takes the timee to make our company better.

    It is our goal to build the best product in the RV industry. We plan to do that through superior materials, focused product development and quality manufacturing priniciples. This strategy can be seen with our NEXCLUSIVE features on our website. Starting with a high strength low alloy all steel framed construction which will add strength and value to our product while our consumers will be much safer in our Pillar of Strength construction philosophy. We also have elected to eliminate any luan backer as the substrate to the fiberglass, we have used AZDEL which is a composite material that is better for lamination and does not hold water thus eliminating any chance of mold build up inside the unit. Those a couple of things we are doing that no one else is doing to give customer's the best product possible.

    We are also spending time with our customers to give them a chance to put their signature on the their motorhomes. This is a huge factor in our success to this point. People want to buy what they want not what is on the dealers lot.

    Another important factor aside from pricing is our national service network. We are in the processing of establishing the largest service network compared to any dealership in America. Customers will deal with the factory direct when they need help with little to no delay in getting things approved.

    We have completed 14 deals and the average savings to the customer has ben 8700 dollars. This is a hard fact to ignore but be assured it is not the only fact.

    Imagine, Save $8700 purchasing what you want, built with materials that are better than the industry pack and get serviced better than any dealership could hope to achieve.

    We are working hard to make this model the model of the future.

    Claude Donati
    Nexus RVS

  9. No question I would, and would rather buy direct. My experence has been that salesman are NOT well informed, and I do my homework, so I have found I know much more than they do, and I resent paying a dealer markup for someone taking an order. I know exactly what I want, and I know what I consider a good value for my $. I have always bought high end, well made coaches used, and from private parties, in most cases, but for a new one, no question, DIRECT for me.

  10. I recently purchased a 5th wheel direct from NuWa/HitchHiker. Buying direct combined with no-haggle pricing is definitely the way to buy a new RV. I met everyone on the line who helped build it -- a lot of great people!

  11. We are about to purchase our second fifth wheel from NuWa, the first one through a dealer in 2005, and this one direct from the factory in Chanute Kansas.

  12. Having spent my whole life in sale, I understand that many people make a living by "being a salesperson." With that said, the RV industry of
    salespeople" make used car salespeople look like kings.
    I am so upset with the "RV salespeople" I have met. In sales, if someone says "as soon as my home sells I will be buying a new motorhome" that is a "good lead." Yet, over the last 6 months, not one of the "salespeople" I have talked with has every done any "follow-up." One salesperson even wrote up info. on my RV so he would have "everything on file" when my home sold. I never heard from him again - nothing, nada, zip - not even an email of "it was great to meet you and when your house sells I will be here to help you get your new motor home. Did I mention I am looking at spending $350K - $400K. This really does bring up the question of "should I pay a commission to someone that onces the wheels hit the street, they could care less?" Buyinhg direct from the factory, they need to care. Time will tell on this one.

  13. I bought my 05 Lazy Daze new from the factory and am still a delighted customer. These guys really have it together and, IMHO, make the best Class C on the market. I wish the new company good luck with their venture.

    Dick in Ridgecrest, CA

  14. We are going to purchase a LAZY DAZE in the fall when I retire. (I am currently deployed, living overseas). I have toured the factory in California and we are pleased with this product. If other MH makers would do the same, it would certainly save customers lots of "middle man" money. I'll never buy from a sales lot again. Also, MH makers should build better quality products. There is a lot of junk out there.

  15. I went to the RV show in Tampa last weekend and happened upon the NEXUS RVs... I was duly impressed with the superior quality (I find that lacking in many brands), and also I liked the idea of buying factory direct. I don't have unlimmited funds to spend, and if buying factory direct can help me get the quality I want then I am all for it. I also like the idea of being able to customize the unit to my needs/taste. I have started a savings account and plan to buy one from Nexus next year at this time although they don't know it yet. My one concern is having spend the money to fly to up there and the time to drive it back to Florida. That chips in a little to the money I would save by buying direct. I wish they had already been in business for several years because I normally would look for a pre-owned unit to buy...

    Trudy-Riverview Florida


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